Feather pickers!!!


the bird is the word
11 Years
Sep 14, 2008
Adair Co., KY
I have 26 LF chicks that I got from MPC. Up until today, they were all in a large plastic tote, and it was getting waaaaay too small for them. So I seperated them, even though I'd prefer not to have, and now they are picking each others feathers!! Two of my (sussex? Leghorns?) have been picked bloody, I put bandaids on their booboos (for lack of a better option) and stuck them in the other box than where they were. It is my 3 little dominique pullets doing the pecking, what can I do to stop this? They have half as many birds per box than they did this morning, and I had no problems from them then. They are about 3 weeks old.
I love the blue wound kote products for just this reason. My chicks were all ganging up on the buff orpingtons, i think because they're a lighter color and they feather changes are more interesting. After 7 of 9 of them were pecked bloody, i ended up striping their necks and their butts with the wound kote. And then my problems pretty much ended.

Don't leave those bloody babies with the others, by the way. If you haven't blue-koted them, you need to keep them separate, because the others will keep going back to the bare or bloody areas.
I don't have bluekote, but I did cover their booboos. The only thing they're doing now is picking at the bandages, and that's mainly the ones wearing them.

What would make them start picking now that they aren't crowded? They were super crowded before, and didn't have any trouble?
Well, my guess is just that they look interesting.

Also, i forgot to say, someone recommended to me to do something to alleviate their boredom. So i started sticking patches of grass (roots included), sticks, leaves, and whatnot in there with them from time to time, to give them something better to do.

Mine kept picking (some) on the non-blue-koted buffs, even after they were moved to a space 3 or 4 times as big as what they were in before. If they're picking on just one breed, then i'd say that one is more interesting for whatever reason, and the culprit may be nothing more than boredom.

I've also read, that if they get too hot, that will encourage the picking. Are they still under a light?

eta: i'll be very interested to learn if those bandages remain in place by morning.....
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Switch their light to a red light, and make sure they are not too hot. Giving them stuff to do could be helpful. Are they on a starter/grower with plenty of protein? You may want to supplement their protein with yogurt, scrambled egg, or washed cottage cheese. Do they have litter to scratch around in and stay busy? (as apposed to wire floor or similar).
Which is another thing I don't have, a red light.

I had forgotten about the too much heat thing, that very well might be it. They are still under a light, but they are not quite 3 weeks old, and their light is a 40 watt bulb. The light they had (when they were all together) was a 52 watt (?), or something near that, and they weren't pecking.

They are being fed Purina Flock Raiser, which is what I've always fed all my chicks. It is 20% protein. But this is the first time I've had this many LF chicks at once, normally I have bantams.

They just got moved to a new box, and have pine shavings for bedding. I'll try the grass tomorrow, once it dries off.

It's not too early to give them grass?

ETA: From what I can tell, the chicks are white leghorns (or possibly white rocks), brown leghorns (or possibly speckled sussex), SLW, Austrolorps, 3 dominiques, and 1 that is either buff orp or a sex-link. The 3 dominiques were the ones I caught doing the pecking, and they were pecking on 2 of the brown leghorn/sussexes.
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